Another misguided call for more K-12 spending

Las Cruces teacher Bill Soules writes in the Sun-News that if we spent more money on education, we’d have better schools. Haven’t we explained this canard before?

Here is a chart of US spending on education as compared with actual education results:

Here is a chart of students per teacher:

As this paper notes, New Mexico’s experience is not out of line with those elsewhere.

The problem is clearly not a lack of spending, the problem is instead one of incentives and the fact that spending more money doesn’t necessarily result in the hiring of better teachers and overall improvements in educational output.

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5 Replies to “Another misguided call for more K-12 spending”

  1. Since you don’t really give a source on that costs chart I have to ask: does it account for inflation?

    If it does account for inflation it doesn’t jive with the chart in the linked paper (if you insist on calling a press release from the Rio Grand Foundation a “paper”) – it *should* be flat in the 90s as spending tracked closely with inflation then.

    If it doesn’t account for inflation it’s *wildly* dishonest. $50,000 in 1970 would be equivalent to more than $250,000 in 2008, so that line is going in the wrong direction.

    I suspect that the first chart doesn’t account for inflation, which makes it so far removed from reality that I wouldn’t even call it a distortion. I’d call it a flat-out lie.

    I also can’t help but wonder why the authors of that chart chose to give such an arbitrarily large scale to the percentage changes in achievement. It’s almost like they’re trying very hard to make those lines look flat, while at the same time making the cost of education look like a rocket.

    What I see on that chart is spending rising faster in some places, followed by increase achievement years later. Maybe there’s a gap between the educational spending on 5 year olds and the achievement of 17 year olds? Maybe 12 years?

    1. Try the National Center for Education Statistics. It is noted at the bottom of the chart. You’re just grasping for straws. Education spending has risen dramatically over the last several decades in New Mexico and nationwide.

      1. I did take a look at that site, and I found that educational spending relative to GDP has held pretty steady, and the amount spent on administration has dropped since 1990.

        There has been an uptick in recent years on capital outlay…but unless you propose we just keep using school buildings that are 60 years old and falling apart at the seams I don’t see a way around that (we could just leave the asbestos in!). Now is probably a really smart time for it, too, seeing that housing construction has tanked and there’s a large pool of eager-for-work (read: cheap) construction companies out there.

        There has certainly been a drop in scores during the 2000’s, but aside from that achievement had actually been rising pretty steadily until the 90s.

        I suspect that our recent problems with achievement have less to do with the (fairly unremarkable) changes in costs of education, and more to do with general cultural malaise. Somewhere in the 2000’s we went horribly wrong, culturally, and embraced an anti-intellectual dumb-show that we now call our media and entertainment.

        I blame reality TV and cable news (Michael Bay may also share some blame), not the school employees. The teachers and administrators are mostly older, and as such must be mostly the same people who were in the schools in the 90s when achievement was rising. So it makes no sense to blame them. Unless of course you think that more money made people less effective…

        Why is it that conservatives will fight tooth and nail for corporate CEOs to make a gazillion dollars at a recently bailed out bank (it attracts talent) while also clawing the eyes out of the salaries of teachers (it makes them lazy)?

        Seriously, enlighten me.

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